The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has given the embattled President of The Gambia, Mr. Yahya Jammeh, till midnight tomorrow to vacate office and hand over power to the country’s President-Elect, Mr. Adama Barrow, or be ousted by force. According to the report, ECOWAS has perfected plans to install the president-elect should Jammeh make bold his threat to continue in office after the expiration of his tenure.
Efforts by Jammeh to erect a legal hurdle in the way of the ECOWAS-backed inauguration of Barrow suffered a serious setback yesterday as the country’s Supreme Court declined to hear an application by his party to that effect. Last Thursday, the country’s ruling Alliance for Patriotic Reorientation and Construction (APRC) filed an application for an interlocutory injunction seeking to stop the inauguration of Mr. Barrow as President on January 19.
But the Chief Justice of the Gambia, Justice Emmanuel Fagbenle refused to grant the application. Barrow was declared winner of the December 1, 2016 presidential election. Jammeh, who had initially accepted defeat by congratulating Barrow, suddenly recanted a week later saying he would challenge the election results at the apex court. His recant threw the country into confusion amid intervention by African leaders suing for a peaceful transition. The African Union (AU) and ECOWAS have pledged to withdraw their recognition of Jammeh as President after Thursday.
But Nigerian officials played down the planned military intervention by the sub-region’s power block last night, saying ECOWAS still hoped Jammeh would respect himself and leave office by tomorrow night.
“From what I gathered, they are extending the olive branch till midnight of January 18th. If he does not (handover power) by 19th, the troops will take over,” a Ministry of Foreign Affairs said last night. Asked about the composition of troops and Nigeria’s strategic role, the source responded: “I don’t have an idea of the troops but they are from ECOWAS.”
However, the Director of Army Public Relations, Brig-Gen. Sani Usman, said he was not aware of plans for military intervention, explaining that such issues fall squarely under the purview of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the federal government.